Reliable and efficient connectivity is the cornerstone of today's digital world. It has become a necessity for businesses and individuals alike to function effectively. The unsung heroes of this connectivity are the routers. These devices are responsible for effectively transporting data packets from one device to another, thereby ensuring seamless communication around the world.
Here is our list of the Best Open Source Router OS Software for Small or Large Networks:
- VyOS A free routing platform that comes with many advanced features for democratizing network access.
- OpenWRT An open-source embedded operating system that helps embedded devices route network traffic.
- pfsense A FreeBSD router or firewall that creates secure networks for your physical devices and virtual applications.
- DD-WRT A Linux-based firmware that works well for many WLAN routers and embedded systems.
- IPFire A versatile and state-of-the-art Linux distribution software that works both as a router and a firewall.
- OPNSense A fork of pfsense and is based on the FreeBSD operating system. It also comes with many advanced features for traffic shaping and routing.
However, the popular routers that exist today are proprietary, thereby creating incompatibilities when you combine routers from different manufacturers. To overcome this limitation, many network administrators have turned to open-source router software. A global community of developers has collaborated and developed these software solutions to provide flexibility for users. In these tools, you have the option to modify the source code to meet your specific needs. In turn, this brings about customization and cost savings while fostering innovation.
The Best Open Source Router OS Software for Small or Large Networks
Let's do a deep dive into the best open-source router OS Software that can be used for both small and large networks are as follows.
Built on Debian, VyOS is open-source software that provides unrestricted access to the Internet. It empowers users to build any solution on top of these routers.
- Custom Scripts You can use VyOS to build custom scripts to get the functionality you need for your business. With its reusable JSON files, you can add as many repositories as you want. You can even have a custom configuration file that you can use for building custom images or even a web service for your customers.
- Leverage a Layered Architecture VyOS is based on a layered architecture. It uses a configuration management framework that's built on a custom shell environment. Also, it encompasses all the different components like firewalls, routers, VPNs, and more. It even offers libraries and config files that you can customize for your solution.
- Easy to Work VyOS is easy to understand and customize. All the command definitions are written in XML, and they are validated in a RelaxNG schema. It also offers scripts written in Python, Perl, or Shell to generate application configs in the destination application. It even offers an API for migration scripts, using which you can parse the config files and automatically update the syntax.
- Wide Support This open-source router software works well for different types of routing like BGP, RIP, RIPng, and policy-based routing. It is compatible with VPN, firewalls, NATs, DHCP, TFTP, flow sensor technologies, and more.
All these features make VyOS a popular open-source platform for network-based solutions.
Based on Linux, OpenWRT is a firmware for embedded devices that want to route traffic. A key aspect of OpenWRT is that it provides a writable file system with package management. This means you can customize any router with the available packages, so it suits the applications you want to run on it.
- Improves Performance OpenWRT enhances the performance of your network. It uses many latest algorithms to ensure that its performance is better than some vendor-manufactured firmware. Above everything, this platform is stable and works well for an extended time. At the same time, its algorithms reduce latency in the network. In particular, the buffer bloat control algorithms increase network throughput.
- Highly Secure The salient aspect of OpenWRT is that there are no backdoor vulnerabilities created by any vendor. Also, this firmware is based on Linux OS, which is known to have fewer vulnerabilities when compared to Windows. In addition to the above two aspects, OpenWRT comes with many features designed to boost security. Specifically, OpenWRT takes a conservative approach to security, as it offers connection without exposing your router to cyberattacks.
- Wide Choice of Packages OpenWRT comes with 27,000 packages that offer a wide array of functionalities. Some popular choices include transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6, ad blockers, home automation routers, and more. Besides these existing functionalities, you can also extend the code to create your own package.
In all, OpenWRT is a highly flexible and extensible open-source software that enables you to do more with your router without compromising on security in any way.
You can download the OpenWRT firmware for your device.
Pfsense is a trusted open-source solution for network connectivity and security. Based on the FreeBSD operating system, this software can be installed on both physical and virtual devices to enable them to securely connect to the Internet.
- Works Well on the Cloud Pfsense is not just for physical devices, but also works well on the cloud. It is available on both AWS and Azure marketplaces and can be used for government cloud services as well. This is why pfsense is a preferred choice for any organization looking to have a custom firewall that doesn't include high fees or limited use.
- Hardware-agnostic Another advantage of pfsense is that it's hardware agnostic. This means the firewall hardware can be customized to meet your preference. It even comes with a hardware selection guide to help you build hardware that meets your needs.
- Extensive Support and Documentation Pfsense comes with extensive documentation and support, so you can find answers to most of your questions and doubts. There are a ton of tutorials and information on installation and configuration, and this is backed by a vibrant community of developers.
Overall, pfsense is a good choice if you're looking for open-source software for your firewall or router.
You can download the latest version of pfsense.
DD-WRT is an open-source firmware built on the Linux operating system. Though it was originally designed for Linksys routers, it currently works well on many WLAN router models. It offers many functionalities, regardless of the underlying hardware.
- Access Control DD-WRT provides access control options, so you can streamline who is accessing your router and network. Undoubtedly, access control adds an extra layer of security to your router and can reduce the chances of internal and external attacks.
- Universal Plug and Play Another key advantage of DD-WRT is that you can plug it with any underlying hardware to get almost the same functionality. This universal plug-and-play provides a good measure of flexibility, as you can use DD-WRT in multiple ways. For example, its Kai Daemon makes it handy to use with the Kai Console Gaming Network.
- Versatility You can use DD-WRT for many network-related functionalities. Some things you can do include forwarding to the DHCP server, as a dynamic DNS, in client isolation mode, migrating to IPv6, and more. It also works well with many flow sensor technologies and antennas.
In all, DD-WRT is a versatile tool for handling different network functionalities, regardless of the underlying hardware.
You can download the latest version.
IPFire is an open-source firewall and router that's based on the Linux operating system. This firmware is easy to use, highly extensible, and can be used across multiple places and installations.
- Highly Secure IPFire takes a multi-pronged approach to security. It is hardened to prevent anyone from attacking it, and hence, protects your network from attacks as well. Additionally, its Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) protects your network from Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Moreover, IPFire is built from scratch and is not a fork of any distribution, so it provides more flexibility for you to harden your router based on the components you use.
- Easy to Use IPFire is easy to use, thanks to an intuitive user interface. Through this interface, you can create groups of hosts and networks, thereby allowing you to shorten the list of rules and regulations. This can come in handy in large and complex environments with multi-level users. Also, IPFire generates logs and reports that can provide insights into the performance of your firewall.
- Supports VPNs IPFire supports VPNs to connect remote data centers and branch offices through an encrypted link. It even provides your employees the option to work from anywhere securely. Moreover, IPFire supports the use of industry-standard protocols like IPSec and OpenVPN for greater flexibility.
In all, IPFire is an advanced open-source firmware that enables you to set up your firewall or router just the way you want.
Click here to Download IPFire.
OPNSense is a FreeBSD-based operating system that forks from pfsense. It comes with a web-based user interface and can be used on any x86-64 platform. OPNSense can double up as a firewall and a router.
- Highly Flexible You can use OPNSense in many ways. It can be implemented as a stateful firewall with support for IPv4 and IPv6. More importantly, you can see the blocked or passed traffic live. Similarly, it can be well-suited for a multi-WAN environment that comes with load balancing and failover support. It integrates with VPNs as well. OPNSense offers pluggable support for OSPF and BGP routing protocols.
- Advanced Security OPNSense is loaded with many security features, and you can customize them for your environment/application. In particular, its intrusion detection and prevention system ensures that no malicious packets enter your network. It uses both Suricata and Proofpoint's Emerging Threats rules to identify and eliminate trojans and bots. It comes with two-factor authentication as well for additional security.
- Ease of Use Another highlight of OPNSense is its ease of use. The web interface is highly intuitive and comes with an integrated search option. You can select multiple languages and can leverage its extensive documentation. OPNSense has a vibrant developer community as well.
All these features make OPNSense a good choice for anyone looking to implement open-source firewall firmware.
Choose the server and download OPNSense.
Open-source router OS software is an alternative to proprietary solutions, as they offer greater flexibility, customization, and cost savings for small and large networks. In this article, we discussed six of the best options to select from. The first one, VyOS, stands out for its extensive customizability through custom scripts and layered architecture, making it suitable for building tailored network solutions. OpenWRT excels in performance optimization and security, providing a wide choice of packages for customization. pfSense, based on FreeBSD, offers robust network connectivity and security for both physical and virtual devices, including cloud environments. DD-WRT provides access control and versatility across various network functionalities, regardless of the underlying hardware. IPFire emphasizes security with its multi-pronged approach and ease of use through an intuitive interface. Finally, OPNSense, a fork of pfSense, combines flexibility, advanced security features, and user-friendly web-based management.
These open-source router OS software solutions empower you to shape your networks according to your specific needs while fostering innovation through collaboration and community support. Leverage these tools to establish reliable and efficient connectivity and enable seamless communication in today's digital world.